Virtual Printing

In my ongoing commitment to enhance your web experience and just make your life easier, here is a FREE tool that allows you to create a PDF from just about any Windows document. You can merge multiple documents into a single pdf, lock them to prevent changes, digitally sign your PDFs to ensure that you are the author and the file has not been modified, email them…the list goes on.

PDF stands for Portable Document Format.

One task that this tool is perfect for is creating a PDF receipt for online purchases. When you buy something online, you typically get sent to a page that serves as a receipt. You are told to print for your records. I hate paper piles and filing. So I simply “print” a PDF copy and store in a directory called “receipts.” No physical copy is made, yet I have all my receipts saved in a folder and if the need arises, I can refer to them, print them, email them etc. It’s a very green thing to do; I save paper, printing supplies, and space in my file drawer. 

The tool is provided free of charge, no nag screens or advertising.  The authors do ask for a donation on the page which is a nice thing to do, but not required. After install, you will be able to select PDFCreator from the select a printer pull down list. You can set it as the default, but if you ever need an actual printed copy you will need to select a physical printer.

If you want to check it out go here. There’s lots of help on their website, but if you need more, or just want to ask a question, leave a comment below or send me an email.

Your Business and the Web

When I titled this post, I didn’t consider the massive scope of the subject.  But more importantly, internet marketing and the  tools used are an ever-changing landscape.  The chances are that I will write this article and it will be outdated before it’s ever published.  So I will focus on the aspects that have the greatest “shelf life,” and reserve the right to update and change it to keep it timely.

Perhaps the question that is easiest to answer is, “Should I have a website for my business?”  And the resounding answer is – Yes.  If you have a business, regardless of type, you need to advertise.  The internet, websites etc.  are just that.  If you are more comfortable with metaphor, consider a yellow page ad.  First you determine what info you will include in your ad, limiting yourself in most cases because of the expense.  What graphics do you use? Color or no?  This is where the metaphor goes down a different path.  The static yellow page ad is yours forever, or as long as people continue to use the phonebook.  If it’s a good ad, this is great, if not, there’s no going back.  With the website, you are able to modify, change, delete as often as you like.  Track the effectiveness of your efforts hourly, then modify your “ad” to take advantage or correct the direction your business is taking.

With the website, you can go further.  Create the opportunity for your client/audience to respond in a variety of ways.  Interacting with you around the clock.  Depending on your product or service, you can create content that supports seasonal, economic or topical changes.  Create time sensitive specials on the fly.  The possibilities are nearly endless.  Now the best part, it’s getting cheaper all the time!  In the early days, seven or eight years ago (in internet years that would be about the same time as the arrival of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts) to achieve the level of interaction available today it would literally cost thousands of dollars and content changes would be measured in the hundreds of dollars.  Now we can achieve those results for hundreds and unlimited changes can be made by the client/owner at no cost other than their own time.

If you’re not on the web, you can bet your competition is.  If your competition isn’t, you can get ahead by getting even the most basic web site.  Contact us for a free consultation.

Best Printer I’ve Ever Owned

Xerox gave me a free printer. One day, while idly clicking, I took a chance on a link promising a free color printer. If I remember correctly, I had just recently dropped $36 plus on some ink jet cartridges times four to refill my thirsty little Hewlett Packard. This was our primary printer in our home office so in addition to printing proposals, consultation studies, and invoices, it did double duty for printing homework assignments and digital art produced by the kids. It was expensive, the quality was mediocre, and if the page got wet –  it all became abstract expressionism art.

The more I read about the Xerox free color printer, the more I liked it.

The highlights of these printers:

  • professional-grade full color printer.
  • free delivery of the printer.
  • free on site warranty for three full years serviced by a Xerox technician.
  • Superb online and telephonic tech support.
  • Only cost is the printer supplies, which were less expensive and of higher quality than our current printer.

So I completed an online application and was contacted by one of the representatives. Although I liked the concept, I was really struggling to believe it could be true. I asked extensive questions and received lucid and reasonable answers. With assurances that I could cancel at anytime, and that they would come pickup the printer at their cost with no further commitment on my part, I signed up.

Double sided printing, envelopes, transparencies, photos, you name it this printer did it and fast!

The printer arrived soon after. We got it set up on the network using online guides available on the website, and were printing from every computer in the house in under an hour. The quality of the prints were the best I had ever seen. The “ink” is wax based, not water soluble –  which means no “runs” if it gets wet. Double sided printing, envelopes, transparencies, photos, you name it, this printer did it and fast and cheap! There’s a wealth of knowledge and resources available on the website. Seasonal cards and templates are easily customized. Troubleshooting is there, but which I hardly ever needed, and friendly, knowledgeable support people willing to assist me with any of the questions or concerns I had.

What Xerox asked for in return was for me to send in a monthly report (a single page printed at the touch of a button from the printer front panel) that I faxed in, and to buy my supplies from them for the three year period.

This printer is perfect for the small business, non-profit, church, etc. that needs professional grade printing, but doesn’t want the expensive service contracts usually associated with a printer of this caliber. We still use ours even though my commitment has been completed – and the printer is still a workhorse. If you come to the office I’ll show you the best printer I’ve ever owned.

Interested? Apply now

Have you secured your own name?

Open a browser and type in “http://www.yourname.com.” Now that was pretty useless, so replace “yourname” with your name, for example: “www.johnsmith.com.” What comes up? Depending on how common your name is, you may find that there is either a placeholder page or your doppleganger’s page. If you’re lucky, nothing comes up, and you get a 404 error.  You’re probably wondering why an error is a good thing.  In this case it means there is a very good possibility that you have an opportunity to secure your name as a domain name.

If you’ve been following along and you did find a 404 error page at yourname.com, then let’s stake a claim on it before you do anything else.  Take Action!

Not convinced?  Okay, let’s examine why you should.  First it’s your name, self explanatory.  Second, prevention.  If you own your name, no one else can create a web page that might have content you don’t appreciate.  Third, and most important, you now have the opportunity to make yourself famous!

Final Note:  consider what your domain name looks like in URL format (all one word)…see examples of bad choices here.